Eleven people have drowned so far this year in Kauai, almost triple the number who drowned in the same period last year on the Hawaiian island. Some have been swept off remote beaches by large waves, others have died trying to cross streams while hiking on the island’s Napali coast.
Hawaiian leaders are very concerned, and trying to educate tourists about the dangers, especially those who go to swim or walk at the wilder, more remote beaches. Wave conditions can change very quickly, and many tourists are not aware of the ocean currents that can rapidly carry them away from the shore. (Tourists also have drowned on other Hawaiian islands this year, including two vacationers from Washington state on Maui, but Kauai has had the most drownings.)
On a visit to Kauai in January, shortly after two people had drowned on the island, I talked with a lifeguard at a beach near Waimea on Hawaii’s west side. Swim at beaches with lifeguards, he told me. Or at least stop and ask a lifeguard about conditions if you’re heading to a more remote beach, he said.
State politicians are asking airlines to show a video warning of the ocean dangers on flights to Hawaii. What do you think?